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Epic v. Apple is over. Here’s what happens next.

Epic v. Apple is over. Here’s what happens next.

Good morning! This Tuesday, a rundown of the final day of Epic v. Apple, the battle over a new Florida law that lets users sue over social media censorship, Roku's smart home plans, and Amazon's movie-studio acquisition.

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The Big Story

The end of the trial

Epic v. Apple came to a close on Monday with a series of contentious back-and-forth debates taking the place of traditional closing arguments.

Both sides made their case for what the relevant market should be — whether it's mobile gaming, the entire gaming market, or the entirety of the iOS app ecosystem — and what kind of remedy might be appropriate.

  • Should Apple have to open up iOS to alternative app stores, or should it be forced to simply allow alternative payment systems or, even narrower, just the ability to advertise cheaper payment systems outside the App Store? These are just some of the options Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers could pursue.
  • We've heard from nearly every big name at Apple, including Tim Cook, why any such outcome is a bad idea, and from Epic executives like CEO Tim Sweeney why those remedies could liberate developers everywhere.

The exchanges distilled the three-week trial down to its essence, helping minimize many of the hard-to-follow tangents and bringing into focus the core arguments we've heard over close to 100 hours of testimony.

  • Apple hoped to establish the market as the entire gaming market, in which the App Store is just one complete digital marketplace among many and in which consumers substitute purchases on one platform for another. In that context, it's clear Apple doesn't have a monopoly.
  • Epic lawyer Gary Bornstein pushed for more. Epic wants the market to be defined as the iOS app distribution market, over which it has argued Apple has an illegal monopoly that results in higher prices and reduced competition. As evidence, Bornstein said Apple feels no pressure to lower its prices, that there's a lack of innovation in the store, and that in the event of a price increase, it's unlikely developers would leave the iOS platform.

Apple and Epic both made impassioned pleas for the judge to rule in their favor. Epic argued for more consumer choice and tried dispelling what Bornstein said were Apple's attempts to scare the court, while Apple lawyer Richard Doren painted a grim picture for Apple and iPhone owners if the iOS ecosystem were opened up.

  • Bornstein said nothing would change for iPhone owners who want to stay in Apple's walled garden, pointing to the Mac as the ideal model for how iOS should be structured going forward.
  • Such changes to iOS would destroy the iPhone and make it a poor imitation of Android, Doren argued. Epic, he said, wants Apple to "drop its gloves and stand in the middle of the arena and take what comes without any meaningful defense."
  • Judge Gonzalez Rogers didn't tip her hand, pushing both sides to clarify their arguments and often cutting through the hyperbole for precise clarifications on thorny legal questions around what the court can and should feel empowered to do in such an unprecedented case.

Both antitrust watchers and the tech industry are looking closely, seeing Epic v. Apple as a proving ground for future antitrust battles at the state and federal level, reports Protocol's Ben Brody.

  • The Department of Justice is watching closely and sees an Apple victory as a potential setback for ongoing regulatory efforts to rein in Big Tech. But it could also prove to be a catalyst in bringing about legislative changes.
  • Apple coming out unscathed might be good for the tech industry in the short term, argued former DOJ antitrust attorney Sam Weinstein, but it could prove risky over time. "If I'm Apple, I worry about it in the long run," he said. "If I win enough, Congress will step in."

Gonzalez Rogers ended the session after a little more than three hours of courtroom debate, saying she anticipates a ruling to take a considerable amount of time but declining to give a firm date. Her earlier deadline of Aug. 13, the anniversary of the Fortnite hot fix that kicked off the whole legal saga in the first place, was merely a joke. Let's hope it's sooner.

What is clear is that with thousands of pages of court documents, roughly 4,500 pages of court testimony, and the fate of some of the largest, most lucrative technology products in her hands, Gonzalez Rogers has her work cut out. Whatever she decides will almost certainly result in an appeal, but the fate of both Fortnite and the future of the iOS platform now rests in her hands.

— Nick Statt (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM SLACK

The future of work is digital-first and collaborative. But, our old tools don't support this new way of working. A recent survey of 1,200 IT decision makers found that collaboration platforms are quickly replacing traditional communication. What does this mean for the new workplace?

Learn more

People Are Talking

What did Tim Sweeney do after the trial? He went for some fast food:

  • "Thanks to everyone whose efforts made this possible, and to Popeyes for building a fine restaurant next door to the Oakland federal courthouse."

After another confrontation between Twitter and the Indian government, Facebook's Brian Fishman said the U.S. needs to step up:

  • "I understand that many folks want [the U.S. government] putting more pressure on tech for a variety of reasons. Fair enough. But there are a host of issues where [the U.S. government] needs to support tech companies to advance U.S. interests and values. USG needs to walk and chew gum at the same time on this."

A new Florida law allows users to sue social media companies over censorship, and Governor Ron DeSantis called it a big win for free speech:

  • "Many in our state have experienced censorship and other tyrannical behavior firsthand in Cuba and Venezuela. If Big Tech censors enforce rules inconsistently, to discriminate in favor of the dominant Silicon Valley ideology, they will now be held accountable."

Ron Wyden, on the other hand, said the law is unconstitutional:

  • "People eager to chip away at core First Amendment protections for speech must remember that the consequences won't just impact content they dislike — they'll apply to everything."

The U.S. needs a national digital regulator (and a lot of other changes), Facebook's Nick Clegg said:

  • "Not only would a new regulator be able to navigate the competing trade-offs in the digital space, it would be able to join the dots between issues like content, data, and economic impact — much like the Federal Communications Commission has successfully exercised regulatory oversight over telecoms and media."

Making Moves

Shanthi Iyer is the new CIO at DocuSign, joining from Cisco.

Faryar Shirzad is the new chief policy officer at Coinbase, joining from Goldman Sachs.

Sarah Patterson is the new CMO at Samsara, joining from Salesforce.

Meghan Biery is the new director of global technology and security policy at the SIA, where she'll be involved in helping end the chip shortage and direct U.S. investment in semiconductors.

In Other News

  • On Protocol: Roku wants to expand into smart home devices, according to recent job listings. It also quietly purchased the IP assets of Blackfire Research, a startup that specialized in wireless networking for smart home entertainment products.
  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt will play Travis Kalanick in a new show about Uber called "Super Pumped." It's a good pairing, but here's the real question: Can JGL hang in Wii Tennis?
  • Those Amazon-MGM rumors are apparently very real. The acquisition could cost Amazon almost $9 billion, and would be a massive boost for Prime Video.
  • Peloton is going Made-in-America. It's building a $400 million factory in Wood County, Ohio, and will start producing bikes and treadmills there in 2023.
  • Don't miss this story about about Chicago's predictive policing program from The Verge. Spoiler: It ended up getting one Chicago man shot — twice.
  • On Protocol: Airbnb thinks remote work will change travel forever. It's betting that people will travel to new places, stay longer, and swap vacations for a more nomadic lifestyle.
  • TikTok can tell if people are homophobic — and will then actively promote other anti-gay and anti-trans content on the For You page, Media Matters found.
  • New WWDC details just dropped. Mark your calendar for 10 a.m. PT on June 7, and get ready for a whole lot of iOS and iPadOS talk.
  • Square is getting into banking. Bloomberg reported the company is planning to offer checking and savings accounts, which could be a big win for the Cash App crowd.

One More Thing

Take a break!

Microsoft continues to try and be out in front of the hybrid work future, this time with a pre-Build LinkedIn post from Satya Nadella laying out a few of his theories for how work should work. (Microsoft also published a guide to all things hybrid, with some solid tips and strategies for companies trying to navigate the situation.)

One of Nadella's tips really sticks out: That people need breaks, need permission to take breaks, need to be told to take breaks, need to be ruthlessly bullied until they agree to take breaks. (We're paraphrasing.) Microsoft and others have found that even short breaks, the sort that used to happen naturally when you went to refill your coffee or hopped on the subway between meetings, are crucial to longterm wellbeing. So try making your meetings 45 minutes instead of an hour, and use that 15 minutes to watch TikTok or pet the dog or just stare into the middle distance. Science says it's good for you.

A MESSAGE FROM SLACK

The future of work is digital-first and collaborative. But, our old tools don't support this new way of working. A recent survey of 1,200 IT decision makers found that collaboration platforms are quickly replacing traditional communication. What does this mean for the new workplace?

Learn more

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